Ranieri safe for now as Inter face rebuilding job

Inter Milan's "golden generation" is at the end of the line and a major restructuring is now expected after the 2010 Champions League winners were dumped out of this season's competition by Olympique Marseille.

President Massimo Moratti absolved coach Claudio Ranieri of any blame after Tuesday's last-16 exit on away goals, saying all the luck was on Marseille's side.

The tie finished 2-2 on aggregate after Inter won the second leg 2-1 at home, meaning the San Siro club will not win a trophy this term for the first time since 2005 given they are out of the Italian Cup and seventh in Serie A.

The rot began as soon as coach Jose Mourinho left following the club's staggering treble success two years ago. The wily Portuguese knew Inter's ageing side had reached their peak and quit for Real Madrid knowing his legacy was intact.

Rafa Benitez, Leonardo, Gian Piero Gasperini and then Ranieri were left to pick up the pieces and major changes in the playing staff are now inevitable.

"We must not think of a revolution but a restructuring. Anyway the club knows this," Ranieri said after Brandao's injury-time goal sent Marseille through despite being sandwiched between Diego Milito's strike and a Giampaolo Pazzini penalty.

"We will continue to fight but our luck must change. The team cannot give more than it is giving. If next year Moratti wants to change coach I will thank him sincerely for the opportunity he gave me."

Ranieri was appointed in September but has endured a rollercoaster season as Inter climbed away from the relegation places before a dreadful run where they failed to win in nine games.

The coach, however, seems safe until the end of the campaign at least.

"I don't feel like taking any action," Moratti said. "I don't see how Ranieri is to blame, it's more to do with the luck French counterpart Didier Deschamps had. If we had lost 4-0 I might have seen things differently."

SNEIJDER SACRIFICED?

It is not just former Juventus, AS Roma and Chelsea boss Ranieri worrying about his position next term.

Treble heroes such as Julio Cesar, Lucio, Walter Samuel, Maicon, Cristian Chivu, Dejan Stankovic, Esteban Cambiasso and Milito will be nervously looking over their shoulders after beginning to show their ages.

Even playmaker Wesley Sneijder, who has failed to fit into Ranieri's system, may be sacrificed to bring in some cash with stuttering striker Diego Forlan - only bought in August - not certain to stay.

Youth has already started to be drafted in but Pazzini, Andrea Poli, Andrea Ranocchia and Ricardo Alvarez have not shone like the "golden generation."

Moratti is wary of UEFA's new financial fairplay rules catching Inter out during their rebuilding although money is available after the sale of Samuel Eto'o to wealthy Russians Anzhi Makhachkala.

The Cameroon striker's departure in August summed up the fact Inter had lost the ambition they had while winning five Serie A titles in a row under Roberto Mancini and then Mourinho.

They are badly missing the driving runs of Eto'o down the channels but raking in nearly $40 million in one go was too tempting for a club who knew their glory days might not be repeated for some time.

To make matters worse for Inter, arch-rivals AC Milan look likely to win a second straight Serie A crown and are into the Champions League quarter-finals thanks to the brilliance of Zlatan Ibrahimovic - a former Inter hotshot.


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